Archive for June, 2011

What is the Best Way to Learn Vocabulary

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

So many people email me asking me this question:  What is the best way to learn English vocabulary?

I’ve given this a lot of thought and it’s not an easy one actually.  I could give a lot of simple advice about different methods for improving English vocabulary that you probably already know but I don’t want to waste your time with that.  I want to actually help you learn and remember.  If you are learning new words and not remembering them, a very common problem, then you aren’t learning at all and you certainly haven’t found the best way.

Here is the thing.  You really need to know and understand yourself and your personality.  You need to know your own learning style and your strengths and weaknesses.  You need to know what you like and what you find boring.

I personally like a combination of reading and listening.  You probably already know that I learned Chinese by myself ie. I learned online instead of in a classroom.  That was one of the main reasons that Add and I made this website.  We knew it was actually possible to learn online.  I found it fun.  I think that was the main reason I kept studying.

Learning from dictionaries is a total waste of time and effort.  You will only get at your “short term memory”.  You might be able to remember words for a while but you will forget them after a very short while.  If you can’t use what you learned in daily life, then you really didn’t learn at all if you are being totally honest with yourself.

I can give you a couple of tips that I think everyone can benefit from.  Before I do that let me tell you about the coolest learning software program for vocab.  I’ve personally seen over 10 friends use it and ALL of them improved a lot:  Ultimate Vocabulary

1.  Make sure you are learning the words that you want to actually use.  If you don’t use the word in your own language than you won’t use it in a new language.  Pay very close attention when you find some new word interesting.

2.  You need quality examples of how to use the words in real sentences.  If you don’t have these, you will forget fast.  One reason that this podcast should help is that we use the same words over and over again.  It will help the words “sink into” your brain.  This process will make it much easier when it comes to speaking later.

3.   Make sure you know what the new words are and how to spell them.  This last one is very important and it’s something that I haven’t been great with to be honest.  I don’t think spelling is as important as many people do.  For example, it doesn’t matter if a word has 2 L’s or one.  The important thing is that you know the necessary parts of each word.  Native speakers make spelling mistakes all the time.  But English learners very often make mistakes that show they really have no idea what the word is.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  There are thousands of examples but this one is a good one I think.

Let’s use the word “Character“.  I think most people know how to spell this but a native speaker might make a mistake and think the word is “Karacter“  The second spelling is totally wrong but at least it shows that the speaker knows how the word should sound.  A new learner might think the word is “Charater“.  It almost looks correct but there is no “c” in the middle of the word.  If you actually think that is the spelling, your pronunciation will be really bad.  People won’t understand what you are trying to say.  You will keep making mistakes over and over again until you finally learn the basic idea of the word.  I hope this is making sense.

I usually don’t recommend other people’s learning material because I find it quite bad.  I finally found one really good exception though.  I’ve been using this vocabulary software program with some of my friends and I’ve really noticed a big difference in their understanding of words.  They write much better now and they speak with better pronunciation and use a bigger and better vocabulary.  In my opinion, the best way to learn English vocabulary is to use this product along with the podcasts here.  Obviously, if you can read this, you are not a beginner.  This is no time to be modest.  Your English is already pretty good but I want to make it better so I’m going to recommend this.  You can try it for free so there is nothing to lose.  I’ve seen so many happy people who use this and I know that I need to tell you about it in case you might find it useful too.  I think that by using it for 10-15 minutes every day, you will notice that your English is better in all areas and that you will be able to understand our podcasts much better.  Here it is, check it out and let me know what you think.  Learn English Vocabulary

Pivothead 1080p Video Recording Glasses are the Next Big Thing

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

One of my hobbies is to look around for cool new technology and try to guess what will be a huge success. Right now I’m thinking that the new 1080p HD video sunglasses made by Pivothead will “sell like hotcakes”. If something “sells like hotcakes” it means that they are going to be selling really quickly. The reason that they are so cool is because now anyone can record video without having to use their hands.

It will make video recording a lot of fun and actually practical. You can record your life as you see it. If something interesting happens, you will have it on film to watch over and over again. It’s a pretty cool concept. There are a lot of really bad “spy glasses” that are selling for under a hundred bucks right now. I checked out the quality and it’s not “up to par”. That means it isn’t good enough to compete with Pivothead. Some people with no cash will probably buy the cheap ones, but they are so bad in comparison, both in appearance and in video quality, that anyone with half a brain will choose the best brand. Pivothead Sunglasses are definitely worth looking into for anyone who wants something cool to have fun with in 2011

Parents will be able to take videos of their kids playing sports with ease. Coaches will be able to record their team in games and practices. Journalists will be able to record interesting documentaries without a film crew. Athletes and adventure seekers can film high def footage of their adventures and have them for the rest of their lives. Bloggers will be able to use these to make interesting content. Now that Google and Youtube are using ads to support video, many people will be making a lot more videos to put up on the web for many kinds of money making reasons. These will be amazing for self promotion and “how to” videos as well.

China232 English Learning Videos

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Hey guys,

Add and I have been a bit “camera shy” over the past few years. That’s a pretty obvious phrase but it means that we are nervous in front of a camera or a video camera (kind of a joke). In case you didn’t know, we used to make some English learning videos. In many ways, they are kind of embarrassing and stupid, but we’re going to get back into making some more this year. We need a new video camera and a better plan. These videos were from when we first started the website and were just playing around with how the internet worked. Take a look and laugh!

At the bottom of this blog I’m going to put a video link to one of our first China232 youtube videos that we made a few years ago outside of our old apartment in Shanghai.

Videos are showing up a lot more in search results lately and we need to “get back on the horse”, ie, make more and better quality ones. I think we stopped making them because people couldn’t find them easily. Now Google is showing videos in search results so we really need to make some more. They are actually pretty fun to make. We made about 6 or so up until now and will be making more when we go back to Canada in the summer. Maybe before then. Do we know these videos are ridiculous? Absolutely. They are pretty funny though in some weird way. Here is the link to our youtube channel: China232 Videos
You can go there and subscribe for free. We’ll let you know when we are making more. If you subscribe to the channel, you can write your comments there and let us know what you think. That would be great.

Besides videos becoming more and more important in any online business, we found something pretty crazy the other day. I got super angry and felt like throwing my coffee cup at the TV, but I finally calmed down. We did a Google search for “China232″ and found that some idiot stole our “search term”. I hope it will be gone by now but when we searched for ourselves on Google, the top video was from someone else trying to sell some totally different English program. I hope no one thought the guy in that video was us. Super embarrassing! I guess that’s how the business world works so we need to put a stop to it! Let us know what you think on youtube and what kinds of videos would be cool for you guys to see. Even if you don’t really “like” the videos that much, I’ll admit, Hollywood hasn’t been calling us lately, it would be super helpful if you could click “like” on youtube. It will help our rankings so that at least new people can find our website if they are searching for it. If everything works well and we get a lot more subscribers, you guys will get to see some more of us on film. I hope it’s a win/win. Here is a pretty ridiculous video of Add and I joking around in Shanghai about 3 years ago. Wow, time really flies!